Posts Tagged ‘gates at Chicago Union Station’

Amtrak Institutes New Chicago Boarding Procedure

November 18, 2016

Amtrak institute new boarding procedures for coach passengers at Chicago Union Station last month.

Amtrak logoPassengers boarding trains that require reservations are now required to check in on the day of travel and obtain a boarding pass.

Once passengers have checked in and received a boarding pass, they will be directed to the appropriate boarding area to wait for their train.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said “the earlier you check in, the earlier you’ll be in the boarding process. If you don’t check in, you’ll be among the last to board.”

The check-in procedure will not apply to Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service trains because they are unreserved.

Boarding will begin about a half-hour before departure and passengers will board with their assigned group much in the same way that Southwest Airlines handles boarding of its planes.

According to the service advisory, general boarding for passengers traveling in coach class will take place in the Great Hall where there will be signs directing passengers to the location of their assigned group.

Passengers may purchase a $20 priority boarding pass for the Legacy Club, making them the first coach class group to board. Uniformed military personnel can enjoy the Legacy Club free of charge.

Seniors age 62 and over, customers with disabilities, families with children 12 and under, and non-uniformed active duty military personnel can board with assistance from the south boarding lounge, ahead of general boarding.

Passengers in sleeping car or business Class, or are a Select Plus or a Select Executive Amtrak Guest Rewards member will not need a boarding pass. They will board from the Metropolitan Lounge and continue to receive advance boarding.

Amtrak advised that passengers should be at Chicago Union Station no later than 45 minutes before departure and 60 minutes if assistance is needed with ticketing, baggage, pets, bikes or other services. Boarding gates will close five minutes before train departure time.

Amtrak’s Illini is Now Boarding

November 7, 2016


There is nothing extraordinary about this photograph that you will be able to readily see.

It was made at Chicago Union Station in March 2014 at the boarding gate of the Illini, a Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois, train that is funded by the State of Illinois.

Departing at 4:05 p.m., it is one of the most popular trains for passengers traveling to the downstate Illinois points of Kankakee, Gilman, Rantoul, Champaign-Urbana, Mattoon, Effingham, Centralia, Du Quoin and Carbondale.

What you don’t see or can’t tell is why I made this photograph. It wasn’t to show a boarding gate at CUS.

It was to make a record of the last time that I would ride a train that figured in my life for 20 years.

I moved to Cleveland in August 1993. The following April, I began what would be a twice-a-year ritual of taking Amtrak to visit my Dad in Mattoon, Illinois.

I would ride either the Capitol Limited or Lake Shore Limited to Chicago and then take the Illini to Mattoon. I would return to Chicago from Mattoon on the City of New Orleans and, later, the Saluki. Then I had my choice of either No. 30 or No. 48 to return to Cleveland.

But I always rode the Illini to Mattoon. In 20 years some changes were bound to occur even if they were relatively minor.

When I first began riding the Illini it was No. 391 and departed at 4 p.m. Once the Saluki began service in 2006 the number of the southbound Illini changed to 393. The schedule changed slightly to depart at 4:05 p.m.

My Dad moved to Arizona in May 2014 and I knew when I visited him in March that it would be the last time that I make that Cleveland-Chicago-Mattoon trek by rail.

So I made this image to record what for me was the end of an era.

Only a Few Days Left to Run

October 14, 2016


To be honest, the quality of this image is not that good. It is quite grainy because I made it with slide film and there wasn’t much light in the concourse area of Chicago Union Station.

Yet the image has historical value because at the time that it was made in September 1979 the Chicago-Seattle North Coast Hiawatha was living on borrowed time.

At the end of the month, a massive Amtrak route restructuring would sweep away the North Coast Hiawatha along with several other trains.

I was in Chicago to ride the North Coast Hiawatha to Seattle before the train was discontinued. I had a coach seat aboard No. 17 to St. Paul, Minnesota, and then switched to a sleeper for the duration of the trip.

I remember it being a very pleasant trip and at times quite scenic. It was still the era of steam-heated equipment, but the motive power was a pair of F40PH locomotives.

To provide steam for the heating and cooling, a steam car was placed behind the engines.

This photograph also reminds me of what Chicago Union Station looked like during the era following its first remodeling by Amtrak.

It was before the current coach lounges were created. The concourse area outside the south gates could be quite cold and drafty in the winter. But it appeared to be modern for its time.

Night of Change in September 1995

October 4, 2016


It’s the evening of Sept. 9, 1995. Train No. 50, the Cardinal, is boarding passengers at Chicago Union Station to go to New York for the final time.

It has been more than a decade since the administration of Thomas Downs engaged in a massive Amtrak route restructuring that had it been fully implemented would have wiped out far more service than it did.

As part of that restructuring, Amtrak cut back the eastern terminus of the Cardinal to Washington, D.C., and assigned Superliner equipment to the tri-weekly train.

Later this evening, the Broadway Limited would depart for New York for the last time, leaving Amtrak with just one Chicago-New York train.

You are looking at the last Cardinal to depart Chicago with Heritage Fleet equipment although Amfleet II coaches had been regulars for some time.

The Cardinal would eventually resume going to New York and the Superliner equipment was assigned elsewhere. But on this day, the changes about to occur had the appearance of being permanent.